Sacred Cods and Holy Mackerals

He wants what caught in a ringer?
January 23, 2009, 12:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

There was a point during the early days of the Watergate investigation where it became clear that the break-in wasn’t just the work of some over-zealous campaign staffers — rather it was indicative of a more wide-spread and far more nefarious strategy endorsed by the President of the United States.

Even with the advantage of 36 years of hindsight it’s still hard to pinpoint exactly when this happened. Woodward and Bernstein knew something major was up when a $25,000 campaign check ended up in the bank account of one of the burglars. For the public, opinions really started to change at the revelation that the President kept an enemies list and wasn’t afraid to use the IRS to “screw” those he felt were subversive to his goals.

I hesitate to equate Sal DiMasi with Richard Nixon. After all, I don’t think anyone has ever described Sal DiMasi as “utterly without ethics or morals or any bedrock sense of decency.” My point – my hypothesis, if you will – is that yesterday’s Boston Globe blockbuster on Richard Vitale paying off legal bills owed by DiMasi’s in-laws may be the “enemies list” tipping point.  Not a “smoking gun” moment where DiMasi’s guilt becomes inescapably apparant, rather one of those moments when you stop being able to rationalize away previous evidence, and start realizing that there is a real and serious problem. 

Maybe one can write off  DiMasi receiving a $250,000 third mortgage from Vitale as just friends helping friends out. Maybe one can see the plausibility of Vitale banking bigtime off being a Friend of Sal’s without Sal actually doing anything wrong. Maybe one can even understand why DiMasi would fight to keep private records that he is legally entitled to keep private in defiance of an investigative subpoena.

But for Vitale to pay off legal bills owed by DiMasi’s in laws smack in the middle of Vitale “lobbying” on behalf of ticket scalpers and Cognos — well let’s just say that the seesaw is starting to get a bit heavy on the side with the wolves waiting underneath.

State House insiders have been trading odds both on when DiMasi would resign along with whether he would be the third consecutive speaker to be indicted.  In the fall, the odds were that DiMasi would be gone by July. Now it’s even money that he won’t be here come Groundhog Day. (I took the trifecta of an April departure, no indictment, and neither DeLeo nor Rogers as the next Speaker. Short money for long odds, I know. But that’s how I roll.)

The landslide vote that put DiMasi back at the rostrum should not be interpreted to mean that he continues to hold a mandate. About one-third of his votes came from legislators who looked over at Robert DeLeo before casting their vote. Another third looked over at John Rogers. Split loyalties may be OK on Swearing-In Day, but it makes things more difficult when it comes time to write a budget. Ask George Kevarian how easy it is to balance a multi-billion budget deficit when there’s open warfare on the floor. 

I can see the State House News Service story now. It will contain an anonymous quote from a frustrated lawmaker comparing Bob DeLeo to Tom Hagen. “Everybody likes Bobby but he’s not a war-time consigliere. Don’t forget, it was John Rogers who saw us through the last recession.”

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